World trade in goods and services has increased dramatically over the past decade, rising from around $12.5 trillion in 2009 to more than $19.4 trillion in 2018. Even this year, amidst several geopolitical, technological and cultural changes, cross-border commerce continues to thrive, acting as a crucial driver of growth for businesses across the globe.
Selling overseas can unlock valuable commercial opportunities, but that’s not to say it comes without risk. Corporations involved in international trade must manage both domestic and foreign stresses, as well as other business development risks – from ethics to intellectual property.
A strategic approach is therefore required to ease integration into the world economy and capitalize on the benefits, at the same time strengthening business operations to protect brand reputation and navigate change.
Standards provide the guidance and strategic direction that enables organizations of all sizes to perform better, manage risk and achieve sustainable growth. Through compliance with key international standards, business owners can enhance cross-border trading prospects and successfully increase global sales.
Not sure where to begin? ISO 9001 is a great place to start. This standard specifies requirements to implement a quality management system (QMS) that is tailored to individual business needs and meets regulatory requirements worldwide.
ISO 9001 provides a globally recognized language of quality. With an appropriate QMS, corporations are better able to manage and improve the quality of their goods and services, consequently boosting participation in international trade.
Certification instils confidence in consumers and partners, demonstrating a commitment to consistently meet customer requirements and, where possible, exceed expectations. Applying the standard not only increases product quality and compatibility; it also simplifies internal procedures, improves efficiencies and delivers reduced costs.
In the age of transparency, quality goes a long way in building trust and establishing brand credibility. Beyond this, consumers, investors and even employees are increasingly interested in the corporate responsibility efforts of a business. Standards like ISO 14001 and ISO 26000 provide reassurance that a brand can be trusted to act in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
ISO 14001 helps corporations embed a culture of sustainability that meets the high standards of consumers and other stakeholders, while also improving legal and regulatory compliance.
Meanwhile, ISO 26000 assists in implementing a social responsibility strategy, proving an organization can fulfill policy commitments, which reassures stakeholders. Both standards act as a benchmark of best practice, providing a considerable advantage over competitors when tendering for business.
Further to this, every credible partner will want to know that the right occupational health and safety (OH&S) compliance in place. With the implementation of ISO 45001, companies will find themselves on the forefront of best practice for OH&S, while the upcoming ISO 45003 focuses on psychological health in the workplace.
Certification demonstrates that your organization cares about the working conditions of employees and collaborators, which acts to bolster brand reputation and increase organizational awareness.
International expansion through cross-border trade invariably brings other specific risks. Luckily, several standards exist that can help corporate teams avoid potential threats and sell into new markets with confidence.
ISO 22301 is the international standard for a business continuity management (BCM) system. It equips managers with operational readiness when responding to unexpected situations, helping mitigate potential revenue loss and reputational damage.
Cybersecurity is another key area to address. ISO 27001 offers a robust methodology for identifying threats and vulnerabilities, so risk can be managed, and incidents kept under control. Certification demonstrates investment in exemplary practices to safeguard sensitive data and protect critical assets, increasing external trust and opening up more opportunities to sell overseas.
Of course, for current and future partnerships to be a success, a healthy working relationship is vital. ISO 44001 provides the framework and requirements to help establish collaborative partnerships.
It delivers a wide range of benefits, including increased innovation, improved cost management and better risk mitigation – ensuring that all parties involved get the maximum value from working together. Certification shows clear commitment to transparency and good governance.
Getting the most from selling overseas takes suitable amounts of planning and preparation. With the right standards in place, corporations can build effective cross-border strategies for international growth and gain a solid foothold in the global marketplace. What’s more, performance will benefit from improved efficiency and productivity, building the recognition and loyalty that brings a competitive edge and supports overseas expansion.